After teammate shot, Carmelo makes plea for gun control

Richard Harbus/for New York Daily News

Carmelo Anthony speaks to the media on same day one of his teammates was shot.

In the wake of a teammate being robbed and shot by masked thugs, Carmelo Anthony made a plea for gun control during a session with reporters that provided both compassion for the victim and insight into the dangers of celebrity life.

“(Gun control) is just something we have to do,” said Anthony, who was part of the NBA’s video campaign against gun violence released around Christmas. “We have to figure it out.”

Coach Derek Fisher, GM Steve Mills and the Knicks’ head of security John Donohue addressed the players just hours after reserve swingman Cleanthony Early was shot in the knee outside of Queens strip club Wednesday at around 4 a.m.

CLEANTHONY EARLY SHOT IN OVERNIGHT ATTACK NEAR QUEENS STRIP CLUB

The lesson from Anthony, beyond the gun control advocacy, was that NBA players are targets because of their fame and fortune, and that their safety should never be assumed.

“Believe it or not, even though I said the Knicks in particular are not targets, we all are targets at the end of the day. Regardless of how much love people will show you and whether you feel comfortable being in this place or that place, it will always be that one person who thinks differently, who feels you shouldn’t be in the position that you’re in, that you shouldn’t be as blessed as you are,” Anthony said. “So it will always be the 99 people who are bigging you up and then the one person over here who is trying to take you down.

“That’s just the life we live. We can’t control that. If we try to stay away from every place we go to and worry about safety and security than we will just be in the house all day, every day.”

Early’s incident represented the second time in less than two weeks that a Knick was robbed during a night out, with forward Derrick Williams involved in a police investigation of two women who allegedly stole $ 600,000 worth of jewelry from his home in Manhattan.

Fisher said he spoke with Early from the hospital and the injury “does not appear life-threatening.” The coach declined to speculate on the extent of Early’s injury, his future as a basketball player, or delve into a discussion about responsible partying. He did not rule out the possibility of establishing a curfew in the future.

“I can’t and won’t get into debating those type of things. It’s clear that (Anthony and Williams) are victims. They didn’t break any laws,” Fisher said. “So from that standpoint internally what we discuss about what guys are doing and where they should and shouldn’t be, we’ll talk about those things internally at the right time. But for now, until Cle is back, I just don’t think it’s right for him and for his mom and his family, that that be the story as opposed to just making sure he’s okay.”

Elise Amendola/AP

Knicks forward Cleanthony Early was robbed and shot in the knee early Wednesday morning.

In the past nine months alone, three NBA players have been shot (Early), stabbed (Chris Copeland) and injured by police (Thabo Sefolosha) outside of New York clubs. Anthony, 31, who uses security when he goes out, said he’s been frightened by the repeated gun violence.

“It’s scary man. This goes back to years when I was in Denver. I had a teammate Julius Hodge, that was (shot in a drive-by) when I was out there. I was there when the Broncos player (Darrent Williams) got killed (in a drive-by shooting),” Anthony said. “So a lot of these things, you really don’t put two and two together until you hear an incident and you start to remember, ‘This happened and that happened.’ So as athletes, anybody, not just athletes, but people with some type of stature or money, who have something going for themselves, we just have to figure out a way to be better, be safer, know our surroundings, know where we at, know who is with us, know who is not with us.”

From an athlete’s perspective, Anthony acknowledged the way to totally avoid this stuff in the current climate is an unrealistic option.

David Wexler/For New York Daily News

Police investigate the shooting of Knicks’ Cleanthony Early outside Queens strip club.

“The only way you could do that is just not go (out). And I’m not telling guys not to go but guys are going to have a good time. Guys want to go out, guys want to have a good time,” Anthony said. “Guys are young. Even older guys want to have a good time. So I’m not sitting here saying, ‘Don’t do that, don’t go out.’ It’s easier said than done.”

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Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed in Denver in 2007 while Carmelo Anthony was a member of the Nuggets.

The Knicks went through a light practice Wednesday after hearing about the news of Early, who has been at the end of Fisher’s rotation and played just six combined minutes in December. Early was Phil Jackson’s first draft pick as team president – 34th overall in 2014 out of Wichita State – and was twice assigned to the D-League for one-game stints this season.

The Knicks (15-18) are at Chicago on New Year’s Day, and play four of their next five games on the road – all against contending teams.

“The hope is that while you respect and appreciate the seriousness of a situation like this, that individuals can find a way to collectively come together,” Fisher said. “Some guys may struggle more than others to be focused. But that’s what’s it is being on a team and why guys love the brotherhood aspect of it. There are other people there that can help them through tough times.”

Tags:
carmelo anthony ,
cleanthony early ,
new york knicks ,
nba ,
gun violence ,
gun control

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